From left: Chairman of the occasion, Senator Matori Salisu Musa; Executive Secretary/CEO Nigerian Shippers Council, Hassan Bello; National President, and Chairman of Council , The Chartered Institute of Transport Administration Nigeria CloTA,  Dr. Bashir Jamoh and Managing Director/CEO, National Inland Waterways Authority NIWA, George Moghalu at the ongoing Maiden National Transportation Summit in Abuja.

The Executive Secretary/CEO of the Nigerian Shippers Council NSC, the country’s port economic regulator has faulted the relegation of the transport sector to the background with a paltry 0.01 per cent contribution to Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product GDP; a development he said is unacceptable if the economy must experience exponential growth and development.

The Executive Secretary spoke in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital city while presenting the keynote address at the ongoing three-day maiden National Transport Summit with the theme: Unlocking the Potential of Transport for Sustainable Growth” organised by the Chartered Institute of Transport Administration Nigeria CIoTA.

He observed that Nigeria’s transport system has for too long been left in the hands of non-professionals with the attendant brigandage and chaos that characterise it.

Describing the transport sector as the backbone of any economy, he also noted that there has to be a nexus between the sector and the macro economy in Nigeria for the full impact of the sector to be felt in terms of economic growth and development, arguing that countries that develop their transport sector grow faster.

He regretted that transport related cost accounts for about 48 per cent cost of production borne by manufacturers in the country, which he said was too high and accounts for why goods made in Nigeria are not competitive with others manufactured elsewhere including Europe where it is less than 19 per cent.

‘”Transport is strategic, key and border to the world’s economy. In the early 1970s and 80s, Apapa and Tin Can Island Ports handled about 34 million metric tonnes of cargo but today, both seaports handle over 84 million metric tonnes and there was no plan to improve the transport infrastructure irrespective of the United Nation’s projection that our population would experience 2.6 per cent growth annually and that is why you see all the distortions that star us in the face now.

“All these are happening because we do not have professionals planning our transport systems. Cars should not be struggling with trucks on the port access roads; Nigeria is in competition with the rest of the world and cannot afford to be an island unto itself. The transport sector in Nigeria should be the driver of the economy and not the oil and gas or the agriculture, especially in terms of creation of jobs and contribution to the GDP”, he said.

He disclosed that the council was preparing a bill on the carriage of goods in the country, which it plans to send to CIoTA for its input before transmitting to the National Assembly, arguing that there is no liability in the carriage of goods in the country, which needed to be addressed urgently as part of the reform of the sector. 

While reviewing Nigeria’s maritime industry, Bello noted that as a maritime nation, the country is the only member of the Organisation of Oil Exporting Countries OPEC that still has its product lifted on the basis of Free On Board FOB, a development he blamed on the fact that the country does not have a ship on its fleet.

President of CIoTA, Dr. Bashir Jamoh, had while presenting a welcome address, pledged that the institute would intensify its advocacy in terms of advising the Federal Government, adding that improving the transport sector would help create jobs in the country.

“We will continue to ensure that Nigeria has only professionals in the transport sector to handle issues affecting it. Nobody who does not have the right qualification and certification would be allowed to practice in the transport sector, members need to have up to date experience”, he said.

Dr. Jamoh, who doubles as Executive Director, Finance and Administration of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency NIMASA, said that the institute is currently collaborating with the Federal Road Safety Corps FRSC to deploy a volunteer force, which will be drawn from the National Youth Service NYSC to help manage the perennial traffic in Apapa.